The break continues and I'm very content. After finishing the doll I jumped into sashiko quilting, first making my sister a potholder and now making pieces for a blanket. It's very relaxing work, geometric patterns, even stitching, bold symbols and very specific techniques resulting in dramatic effects.
I haven't been overly social, mostly spending time on these solitary projects, watching movies, playing video games, making myself slow down while still giving my fingers, unaccustomed to idleness, something to do. I'll start drawing again soon but right now I'm enjoying staying away from the table. And I need to enjoy this time away in order to get charged up for going back.
In January I start six to seven issues straight and that worries me a bit. Four was hard, five would have been harder, but six to seven? Yikes.
When I first started on the book it was 15 issues until a break. It was supposed to be 12 but by the time I got to 10 I learned the arc needed to be stretched out a bit and I needed to stay on. I was already slowing down, probably because the end was nearing, weird psychological response to stress I guess, pushing the limits like that, and whatever wriggle room I started out with shrank and disappeared until I was running far behind. I was getting calls every other day, I was snappy and grumpy, it wasn't a good time. I was looking forward to my two issues off.
Somewhere in the middle of all that I went blind.
We came home from Ian's birthday dinner and one of my eyes were itchy and seeping. It wouldn't stop and by 2am I was in the hospital. They said it was a minor infection, gave me some drops and told me it would clear up in a couple of days. I had an experience with pink-eye when I was younger but nothing like this and instead of getting better it got worse. Two days later I was an absolute mess. I had this icky stuff building up under my eyelids that had to be peeled off every few hours or it would ball up and feel like sand everytime I moved my eyes. I couldn't sleep because every time I would start dreaming I'd wake up hurting. All light was too bright and uncomfortable. I was finishing up the last few pages of the Astronaut arc, one hand drawing, the other holding a damp cloth to my eye. And then the strain of it all made my eyes unable to focus. When I could pry my eye open from all the muck I couldn't see.
I went to my doctor who became quite alarmed and sent me to a specialist that afternoon. The specialist took one look and left the room. He returned with a group of students who whispered about my case from the doorway. Past experience has told me this was bad. They all left and then the doctor returned a few moments later, this time with a whole new group of students, none came in, they all whispered. Okay, this was really bad.
Finally the doctor entered and sat down, wrote on his scrip paper the words "EKC" and "10% bleach solution" and handed it to me. I had contracted a severe form of pink eye, there was nothing I could take for it except to get into bed with some cold compresses and not come out for ten days so no one else would catch it. The bleach was for everything in my apartment that I had touched.
When I got up to leave he told me to keep the tissue box I was holding and to not touch the door on my way out.
I spent the next few days not seeing anything, just lying in the dark, occasionally getting up to debride my eyelids.
After a week I was fine again. When the white returned to my eyes it was a genuine and much welcomed surprise.
So why did I ramble on about that very gross time? I think because I know it was the stress of pushing myself so hard that left me wide open to that insidious little bug. A bug I had eventually figured out was probably caught from a bird that died in our living room a few days before it all began, a bird that my lovely and sweet lil' Augie decided to ruthlessly torture by not killing it right away, causing a lot of flapping and feather flying near my tear-filled eyes. Yep, gotta love that Augie of mine.
I had worked two years straight, long hours, constant deadline pressures, phone calls, and always the feeling of just not being up to the task, and had managed to scrape out a week's vacation. That's how much of my spare two months I had eaten up, not just during the blindness episode but all of it, the family emergencies, the bouts with a cold or flu, and just extra needed time with the people I love.
Fortunately I was able to arrange for shorter arcs after that and it got easier. I found ways to be more efficient with my time, relax more, though it's still a tough job and I know I don't want to do anything this huge in the future. I like my sleep after all.
Soon it starts up again, it won't be as hard but it's still scary. Six issues with the last one being double sized.
And the story is just fabulous.
Which will no doubt make the time fly right by.